County reaches agreement on site plan, term sheet

thumbnail of Nemaha County – NextEra Term Sheet.2_Part1

After months of negotiations, two public hearings and multiple executive sessions, the Nemaha County Commissioners have finally reached an agreement for the Soldier Creek Wind Farm Project, which is to be located in southern Nemaha County surrounding the cities of Corning and Goff.

Following a one hour and 15 minute executive session on Monday, July 15, with their hired wind farm attorney James Neeld, Commissioners Gary Scoby, Dennis Henry and Tim Burdiek, along with Nemaha County Attorney Brad Lippert, announced they had agreed to a term sheet and site plan for the project.

“We have agreed to the terms of the term sheet,” Scoby said. “We anticipate releasing such later today.”

Although the intention was to release both documents on Monday, the documents were not released to the media until approximately 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 16.

After the announcement on Monday, the three commissioners and Lippert answered questions from those present about the term sheet and site map. Lippert said he wasn’t going to get into specific terms at that time. Other questions were brought up in regard to certain aspects of the project and future projects.

The site plan is shown on Page 3A. There are 132 approved turbine sites – 120 primary sites and 12 alternate sites – shown on the map. There also will be a large copy of the site plan with turbine locates posted on a wall in the Nemaha County Courthouse later this week.

According to Scoby and County Clerk Mary Kay Schultejans, copies of the term sheet and site plan – which include exact turbine locations – will be made available on Nemaha County’s website at http://ks-nemaha.manatron.com/ for those who wish to print the documents at home. The Clerk’s office will also have copies available for those who are unable to print their own.

A full copy of the term sheet and site plan also can be viewed at www.SabethaHerald.com.

term sheet

Below are some of the changes and additions in the updated term sheet that was released. These topics include setbacks, decommissioning, ice throw, the complaint resolution and remedies, emergency services and height limits.

Setbacks

Since the site plan –with the exact turbine locations – now has been determined, the commissioners have changed the section of the term sheet regarding setbacks. Setback distances have been replaced with the specific site plan. The new term sheet states (Section 2) that NextEra will site the wind turbines within 100 feet of the locations depicted on the site plan. If NextEra chooses to move the location of any turbine, they will need to submit the re-location to Nemaha County for approval.

It also states that despite the variance of 100 feet, no wind turbine may be moved closer than the locations depicted on the site plan from an occupied residential non-participating dwelling or closer than 600 feet from a non-participating property line, unless it is agreed upon by the non-participating landowner.

This section also says that the wind turbines included in the project cannot exceed 300 megawatts.

Old Term Sheet: The old term sheet states that for non-participating landowners, turbines could not be placed any closer than 2,000 feet from the base of the tower to the nearest outside wall of such structure. For participating landowners, the setback distance was 1,400 feet. From property lines for non-participating landowners, the setback distance was 500 feet from the base of the tower, or the total height of the wind turbine, plus 100 feet, whichever is greater.

Decommissioning

Section 9 of the new term sheet regarding decommissioning – the dismantling of the wind turbines – has many changes including the addition of sections regarding a third-party engineer and engineering disputes. There have also been updates to the security, decommissioning and reclamation, and completion sections.

This section now states the third-party engineer must be licensed in the State of Kansas, and will assist Nemaha County in evaluations and monitoring the decommissioning process, as well as ensuring decommissioning is completed.

According to Lippert, a more detailed decommissioning agreement, as well as a road use agreement, will be established following approval of the new term sheet and site plan.

Ice Throw

The new term sheet includes a section on ice throw (Section 5). This section states NextEra will institute turbine control measures, which are acceptable to the third-party engineer to mitigate ice shed on non-participating property.

Complaint Resolution and Remedies

The new term sheet has additions to the section regarding the complaint resolution and remedies (Section 7). They have added that contact information for making complaints will be posted in public locations, such as the project operation and maintenance building, and the project’s website.

Also added was that a representative for the project will make reasonable efforts to respond to inquiries from residents and businesses within five business days. Also, a record of any complaints received, the resolution of those complaints and any unresolved complaints will be maintained.

This section also states that Nemaha County can request – at the cost of the county – a review of any unresolved complaints by a professional engineered that is acceptable to both Nemaha County and NextEra.

Emergency Services

Under the Emergency Services, Fire Protection, and Hazardous Materials section (Section 11), it states that prior to construction of the project, NextEra will make a voluntary contribution of $80,000 to Nemaha County specifically designated for the fire departments impacted by the project.

Height Limits

Under the Manufacturer and Interconnection Specifications section (Section 15), it states the maximum height of all wind turbines for the project shall be 500 feet tall for the term of the project. The company may replace wind turbines, but they must adhere to the 500-feet height limit.

Vote

The Commissioners plan to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 31, at the Community Building in Seneca, where they intend to vote on the term sheet and site plan. According to Lippert, Neeld will be present at the meeting to answer any questions and explain the term sheet, explain the site plan, and to explain the rationale behind it. They do not plan on taking public comments at this meeting.

If there are concerns regarding the new term sheet or site plan, residents are encouraged to contact their commissioners before July 31.

project history

Negotiations with NextEra Energy Resources for the project –which is to be located in southern Nemaha County – began in late 2018.

The commissioners held two public hearings in April 2019 to listen to concerns from the public on the initial term sheet and footprint that had been released. After the public hearings, commissioners decided to revisit the term sheet after multiple concerns were brought up regarding the initial term sheet.

Since that time, commissioners have been in further negotiations with NextEra.

Nemaha County - NextEra Term Sheet
Nemaha County - NextEra Term Sheet.2_Part1

Heather Stewart200 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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